Business development, in common parlance, is the creation of long-term value for an organisation from customers, markets, and relationships. At a high-level, business development efforts work towards building relationships and partnerships where communication and a targeted approach play a crucial role.
Building trust in clients and partners requires time, expertise and strategies. While the traditional law firm approach to business development hinges on an attorney's individual experience and projection, the evolution of new-age business development practices has paved the way for succession planning beyond the personal sphere.
This article will discuss some key areas to focus on while building the business development strategy. One should not forget the relevance of traditional approaches while adopting modern and agile methodologies.
For a long time, the legal industry has always entrusted rainmakers with business development. Jaimie Field, a famous legal marketer and owner of The-Rain-Maker, provides insights on how to become a rainmaker for your firm. She notes that being authentic and positive pays and says, "There's a big difference between bragging about your accomplishments and being able to promote yourself in a positive, authentic way," Also, the key is to be "strategic and consistent" and ethical in approach.
Lessons From Top Rainmakers On Business Development Prospecting (forbes.com) states that the top professionals from industries all across, including law firms, and the consensus is to develop an initial conversation with prospective clients. Professionals put it "as starting to dance with the prospect to see if romance develops."
Scott Simmons, the director of Legal Balance and Creator of the BD Breakthrough Blueprint, penned down The ABC of business development in law. The ABC stands for Action, Belief and Consistency. He states, "Business Development isn't complicated… Focus the conversation on the client to give them the best advice."
Connie Kadansky, a famous Business Development coach, told Forbes, "A toxic relationship with prospecting is costly, but don't despair." She further adds, "Just like any successful relationships you have already developed, this one is capable of growing and evolving." Making cold calls, practising appointments and admiring the prospect list are a few tips and suggestions from Ms Kadansky.
Thomson Reuters report, State of Small Law Firm, found that many lawyers reported increased emphasis on marketing and networking, enhancing client communication, updating websites, growing social media presence and altering marketing strategies.
The report also states the activities law firms should take to develop more business, including drawing prospective clients. Most respondents envisage furthering their spending on digital marketing, including social media, video marketing, and pay-per-click ads; however, networking, reputation management and websites were popular choices.
Although the traditional approach to prospecting, including cold calling, still is a very productive model. However, the advent of technological and innovative business development products does provide predictability in the sales process. Legal professionals can gain a significant advantage over the competition by utilising digital marketing, marketing automation, or other advanced business development processes.
Trusted relationships with clients are a great source of referrals.
Law firm business development and marketing | Legal Blog (thomsonreuters.com) state that the importance of client relationships and growing the firm's visibility through marketing efforts are great ways to grow. John Reed, Law firm Business Development Consultant, founder of Rain BDM, emphasises, "The most satisfying thing you can have as a lawyer is a solid relationship with a client where they trust what you're telling them."
He further added on the strategies for growing relationships and referrals from existing clients, "I love to have firms look back three years and see who their top clients were then — and who they are now," he says. "Then we can ask questions," Who fell off the list? Who moved up? What are the reasons for those changes, and what can you learn from them?"
Only the most forward-thinking enterprises will earn customers' loyalty by meeting and exceeding their expectations. Often, we confuse forward-thinking as part of how we deliver services but forget that it should be the approach across the enterprise. A progressive approach across departments, including delivery, marketing, finance, and operations, gives a different perspective to clients and partners.
As the saying goes, "practice what is preached" law firms continued defiance of technology and relying on conventional Business Development techniques is a regressive move. Practice Innovations: Measuring the value impact of marketing & sales - Thomson Reuters Institute states the importance of gathering measurable data, ensuring accountability and providing results to leadership. The law firms help avoid going haywire and leverage Marketing, Business Development and Sales activities to robust deep-rooted improvements.
NPS leads the way
Leveraging insights from data using analytics is fast becoming a critical competitive advantage for law firms, legal recruiters and the legal industry. Before dwelling on a business development strategy, it's crucial to outline the business goals and segregate the target market and audience.
As the legal industry bolsters on past relationships for more work, referrals and recommendations, it becomes crucial to understand the client's perspective on services delivered.
Sue-Ella, the Principal at Prodonovich Advisory, in her blog, How To Get More Out Of Your Net Promoter Score, lists down why monitoring Net Promoter Score (NPS) is vital for any business. She also lists critical indicators to look out for when running an NPS. She states, "[I]nstead of focusing only on the score - and whether it's 'good' or 'bad' - I think you need to put your NPS in context".
Gone are the days when enterprises drew competitive intelligence through primary research or surveying. NPS (more than just a customer satisfaction survey) is a great intelligent source that can aid business development efforts and monitor team performance.
In their May 5, 2022 article, JD Supra discussed how Data Strategy bolsters the firm's business development efforts. The article emphasised understanding the existing databases' know-how and ensuring that the enterprise utilises the maximum potential, identifying the blind spots and gaps.